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Help an entrepreneur

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Friday March 16, 2007 )

Most of us know how tough it can be to start and succeed in online business, or a bricks and mortar business for that matter. But imagine how hard it would be to set up a small business that can sustain you and your family in a developing country when you basically have nothing to begin with!

I came across Kiva (a Swahili word meaning “agreement” or “unity) yesterday and my first reaction was for my jaw to hit the floor. It seems like a simple, yet brilliant concept.

The organization allows you to make micro loans (as little as $25) to small business entrepreneurs in developing countries. 25 bucks may not sound like much, but it can achieve a lot in these countries; assisting the entrepreneur with purchasing materials and tools. You’ll also have the distinction of being an international financier :).

We’ve seen the buying power of a few dollars in these developing countries previously through our sponsorship of children in Africa.

On the Kiva site, lenders can view a portfolio of entrepreneurs and decide whom they wish to loan funds to. Lenders receive updates on the progress of the business.

This is a loan, not a donation – your money is repaid and 100% of what you lend goes directly to the entrepreneur. There is no security, so there is a chance your loan won’t be repaid, but Kiva states that they’ve had 100% repayments to date and all the businesses are screened prior to listing.

Your money goes to Kiva, who then forwards it on to a Field Partner (microfinance institution in the entrepreneur’s area). The microfinance institution does charge a small interest rate to the entrepreneur.

This is not charity – I see this as an investment in humanity. These entrepreneurs are people who want to better their situation using blood, sweat and tears; they aren’t asking for a handout.

Please, if you can, it only takes $25 – and it’s $25 that you’ll most likely get back; it will help these small business people to help themselves. After all, we in the west have benefited from contributing to their impoverished situation in the first place through unfair trade agreements, propping up cruel dictator governments, setting up western sweatshops to fuel our desire for cheap goods and other forms of oppression. We are partially responsible for the situation people in some of these countries find themselves in. Let’s help fix this.

By the way, if you’re currently pondering a gift choice for someone you know; Kiva also offers gift certificates – the recipient can choose the entrepreneur they’d like to loan the value of the certificate to.


2 comments for Help an entrepreneur
  1. I like the concept, met the founder a week ago.
    I’m an entrepreneur in the US
    and meet tons of struggling entrepreneurs that could use $25 right in my own backyard
    as well. Many of us know budding entrepreneurs and oftentimes we become the microlender/loan advocate.
    These are very determined entrepreneurs with great ideas and very little or no working capital. They operate beneath the radar of most lenders. I’m putting together a simlar site to help local entrepreneurs here in the US. When we look at places like New Orleans, and many other cities around this country, they are very much in third world like conditions in terms of opportunity and could also use the support. I congratulate Kiva and thank them for the inspiration. Stay Tuned!

    Comment by Amber Patterson — September 15, 2007 @ 10:06 pm

  2. Hey Amber, that sounds great – I’m thinking of starting up a loan club for TTB readers to pool a bit of cash to go towards organizations like Kiva – when your project is up and running, let me know.

    Comment by Michael Bloch — September 15, 2007 @ 10:24 pm

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